“Life is good today” is a sentiment that Zac Brown Band fans take to heart.
That line from “Toes” captured the spirit of the concert with fans singing, dancing, trading high-fives and swilling drinks, while the band played tunes about good times, beaches, beers and a preacher's daughter — “the little things that mean the most,” as Brown sings in “Chicken Fried.”
Sunday's sold-out show at CenturyLink Center was another happy one for the Georgia-based band, which won a Grammy Award last week for its latest album, “Uncaged.”
“Y'all ready to get lost with us in some music?” Brown asked upon taking the stage for the band's 108-minute show.
The band quickly played through popular songs such as the Jimmy Buffett-like “Knee Deep” and “Toes,” as well as more country and bluegrass-fueled tunes such as the group's recent single, “The Wind.”
One of the band's major strengths is in its vocals. Brown has a dynamic and powerful voice and he has lined up a group of musicians who all have vocal chops. When they all sing together, such as during “Natural Disaster,” it's simply pretty.
Unfortunately, Zac Brown Band falls into the worst country concert trap: utilizing more and more musicians when just a few would do.
To be sure, it's a band full of truly talented musicians. But with all seven members playing at once, the band creates a wall of sound that often overwhelms its songs. Songs that should have a stark feel — “Quiet Your Mind,” for example, would benefit from a focus on the vocals — instead have the entire band bashing on their instruments.
My other complaint: Too many covers, which come off as cheap grabs for attention (as did a boring, nearly 15-minute drum solo). Everybody likes “Enter Sandman” and “Sweet Emotion,” but I don't think anyone paid 40 bucks hoping to hear Zac Brown and his pals cover a bunch of songs we've heard before.
By my count, they did five covers of songs by Metallica, Aerosmith, Nirvana, Garth Brooks and the Charlie Daniels Band (of which, to their credit, they made a popular recording). Still, that's four too many. I'd rather hear four more Zac Brown Band tunes.
Maybe I'm in the minority. Most of the audience lost their composure during those familiar tunes and howled the lyrics.
Opening band Blackberry Smoke about stole the show.
Country radio plays the band's songs, but they'd be more at home on a classic rock station next to the Allman Brothers Band and Marshall Tucker Band. They're southern rock from their long hair, leather and mutton chops down to their melodic riffs and grungy guitars.
Songs such as “Good One Comin' On” and “One Horse Town” won the band a lot of fans, and they'll be making it into my (and many others') playlists soon.
Blackberry Smoke's set got the crowd warmed up for Zac Brown Band, and most in the audience didn't sit down until the band sat on crates for an acoustic session.
Later, songs such as “Jump Right In” and “Goodbye in Her Eyes” kept the audience on their feet. During the few quiet moments in the music, I could hear the audience's voices echo through the arena as they sang along.
“Chicken Fried” was the band's big finish, up to and including the line “raise your glasses for a toast,” to which many in the audience obliged.
“Thank you so much, Omaha!” Brown said. “We love you. Have a great night.”
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